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Is OUYA’s ‘Free the Games Fund’ Scheme Getting Scammed?

Over the course of the past month or so OUYA introduced a new scheme to encourage developers to create games for their $99 console. The OUYA isn’t exactly chock full of games so in comes the ‘Free the Games Fund’ to save the day. But it seems that not everyone is using this generosity for the good of the console.

The ‘Free the Games Fund’ scheme is pretty simple. The company has set aside one million dollars in order to help indie developer and small studios create the game of their dreams. They must launch a Kickstarter campaign for their game, let us the consumer know that it’s a part of this scheme, and of course they must launch it on the OUYA first for six months, though they’re free to distribute it onto other platforms after that period.

Oh, I almost forgot, you need to raise a minimum of $50,000 with a cap of $250,000.

It seems however, that some companies are taking advantage of this extra cash injection with several Kickstarter campaigns suspiciously reaching well over their end goals. In some cases certain campaigns managed to raise an average of $934.48 per backer. The two main games in question were Gridiron Thunder, and Elemetary, My Dear Holmes with the latter getting suspended due to the developer himself raising concerns on the suspicious account activity backing the campaign.

So what exactly is happening?

Some have suggested that developers who have opted into the ‘Free the Games Fund’ may be backing the campaigns themselves or even roping family members into the mix and throwing $10,000+ in order to receive more from the OUYA FtGF kitty. In response to the controversy OUYA have spoken out.

In a blog post, Founder Julie Uhrman wrote:

“This response surprised us — we thought this was going to be great — how could it not be? We launched the Free the Games Fund to find great games from the very platform that gave us life. We wanted to make magic happen and help developers bring their games to OUYA

“In launching this campaign, we’ve been called everything from naive and foolish to crazy and idealistic. This is not the first time we’ve been called any of that. Maybe we’re naive … and YES we’re definitely idealistic. It’s gotten us this far. We believe (still) that great games from great developers can be discovered this way — by you. If we can put aside the doubt and embrace the spirit of this fund as it is meant, and of OUYA as it is meant, we might just be surprised by what a little positivity can produce.”

Sadly however the post didn’t mention the apparent miss-use of the fund’s ideals, instead it just gave a thumbs up to how it’s gone so far with a polite “as you were”.

Because of this various well known indie developers added their two cents in, including Mike Bithell the developer of Thomas Was Alone and the upcoming Volume;

“Wow. This post makes me sad, for a lot of reasons to be honest, but mainly for the wording. This isn’t an acceptance of criticism, or an explanation of how clearly dodgy as hell schemes are being supported by you publicly (in PR at least, I really hope you weasel out before giving the Gridiron Thunder guys a penny).

“This reads like a press release from a console company locked into a foolish policy and using aspirational language to shift the blame, weirdly, onto its critics.”

With campaigns like this honesty is a huge factor and when you’ve got certain people taking advantage it ruins the trust between the developer and the people who are expected to part ways with their hard earned cash.

What are your thoughts? Leave a comment below!